Khao Lak literally means Lak Mountain. Lak Mountain is one of the main peaks in the hilly small mountainous region within the Khao Lak Lam Ru national park. It has now simply come to be known as 'the mountain beside the sea'. There is a shrine of Chao Pho Khao Lak dedicated to the wizard of the mountain.
Haad Khao Lak is an exceptionally pretty beach and long stretch of golden sand broken up with granite boulders with great dramatic effect. It actually comprises of three individual beaches, and at the far northern end there is a network of sandy beach trails, some of which lead to completely deserted stretches.
The coast is set against a background of pines, which in turn give way to green palm groves, interspersed with lakes, and rubber & coco plantations.
Partly encompassing Haad Khao Lak, the forested hills of Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park tower over the natural coastal beauty. This 125 sq km National Park is a lovely collection of sea cliffs, hills, beaches, and evergreen forest. Several other land based National Parks can be reached from Khao Lak. Khao Lak also offers some splendid offshore diving and snorkeling experiences. Live coral formations can be found just off the coast. There is also a nearby wreck dive.
The Similian Islands National Marine Park can be easily reached and lies 55 km due west of Khao Lak. These islands are world renowned among diving enthusiasts for amazing underwater sightseeing at depths down to 30 meters. Also within reach, to the north west, is the Surin Islands National Marine Park; these islands are also suited to exploring and hiking, in addition to snorkeling and diving; some of the best reefs at Surin do not require scuba gear.
The accommodation at Khao Lak ranges from some nicely designed Thai-style cottages and bungalows through to a few extremely tasteful and discrete up-market hotel resorts offering every luxury with views to the sea and surrounding forest.
Following the tsunami of December 2004 the local economy was ruined as it was in nearly all coastal towns hit by the devastating wave. Most coastal resorts were either heavily damaged or completely demolished, resulting in a great loss of life and major blow to the local tourist economy. At the time of the tsunami, Khao Lak was Thailand's fastest growing tourist destination.
December 2007 has marked the third anniversary of the tsunami and Khao Lak's economy has nearly bounced back. Most of the coastal resorts have completed their reconstruction or repairs and the tourism has flourished. Seaside and inland resorts are indicating full bookings during high seasonal months of November to March.
Khao Lak is still a bargain compared to other regions of Thailand and Southeast Asia. Where Phuket is a destination for most, Khao Lak is experiencing the traveler that wants more secluded beaches, quiet nights and family oriented activities. Hotels and bungalows range from $15USD to $700USD per night depending on your budget. There seems to be something for everyone's budget.
In essence, Khao Lak offers relaxation, tranquility and charm in a splendid unspoilt environment on the beautiful Andaman coastline surrounded by National Park forest. It is also ideally situated to provide visits to numerous points of interest and natural attractions, including several Marine and Land based National Parks, not only in Phang-Nga province but also in the neighboring Surat Thani and Ranong Provinces.